What is a Diary?

According to Wikipedia.org, a diary is a record (originally in handwritten format) with discrete entries arranged by date reporting on what has happened over the course of a day or other period. A personal diary may include a person’s experiences, thoughts, and/or feelings, excluding comments on current events outside the writer’s direct experience. The word “journal” may be sometimes used for “diary,” but generally a diary has (or intends to have) daily entries, whereas journal-writing can be less frequent.

The word diary comes from the Latin diarium (“daily allowance,” from dies “day”). The world journal comes from the same root (diurnus “of the day”) through Old French jurnal (modern French for day is jour). The earliest use of the word refers to a book in which a daily record was written in Ben Jonson’s comedy Volpone in 1605.

Thank you, Wikipedia, for providing the etymology and history of the first use of the word diary, but how does a diary differ from a journal? Are they essentially the same? Is JournalOwl an online diary, an online journal, or can it be used for both? And why should you even care?

JournalOwl can be used as both a free online journal and a free online diary. Typically, people write in their diary every day to record the events that already occurred, whereas journal writing is less frequent and more expressive. With JournalOwl, our 21-day challenges are designed to immerse an individual in the daily habit of journaling to uncover hidden insecurities that can ultimately be overcame. With JournalOwl, you can keep either a diary or a journal – in a private, encrypted, double-password protected, military-grade secure environment. Your personal thoughts, photos, and videos are vaulted and never accessible to anyone but you.

Start your secure, private, and double-password protected diary today.

Using a diary template, offered by JournalOwl, can help provide guidelines for each day. Similar to journal prompting, a generic diary template is like this:

  • Introduce the topic/experience of the day. For example, you could say something along the lines of, “Today was an amazing day at the beach with my wife and kids.”
  • Then, delve into the reason why you decided to take your family to the beach. For example, you could say, “After being cooped up in the house for nearly 2 months from the COVID-19 lockdown, we wanted to get some fresh air at a local private beach together.”
  • After you write about the reasons why, jump right into how you felt about the experience. “It was wonderful watching my son and daughter bond together over a sandcastle. I’m also relieved that my son is no longer afraid of the water!”
  • Always conclude your diary entries on a positive note with a future-looking statement of your next family journey. “We captured several beautiful moments together as a family at the beach. I am looking forward to coming back to this same spot next weekend to improve our sun tans.”                                                             

Unlike academia, you are not being judged on how well you adhere to the diary template. Have fun with it but try to keep it in the general diary guidelines that you set for yourself. The bulk of your writing will be in the section where you describe how you feel about a specific event that occurred that day. This is where the true power of expressive writing comes to play. You can fully appreciate the beautiful moments in life by capturing them in words, along with images. Sure, it is great to have millions of photos and videos backed up to the cloud, but without the context of those photos – the day is up to interpretation.

How amazing will it be when you open JournalOwl in 40 years from now to see your family beach photos, along with how you felt that day in the written word? Writing is a timeless way to express yourself and save your memories in JournalOwl's diary vault. Give your children and grandchildren something "real" to read about the experience that day -- not some scripted blurb with social media hashtags designed to get likes and comments. 

Health Disclaimer

JournalOwl is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, medical treatment, medication, or therapy. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding any mental health symptoms or conditions. JournalOwl is not authorized to make recommendations about medication or serve as a substitute for professional advice. You should never disregard professional psychological or medical advice, or delay in seeking treatment, based on anything you read on JournalOwl’s website or platform.

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